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Lord George Gordon

Gordon, Lord George, 1751–93, English agitator, whose activities resulted in the tragic Gordon riots of 1780 in London. In 1779, Gordon assumed leadership of the Protestant Association, an organization formed to secure repeal of the Catholic Relief Act of 1778 (see Catholic Emancipation). On June 2, 1780, he led a huge crowd to present a petition to Parliament, and the demonstration rapidly turned into an orgy of destruction and plunder that lasted a week. The jails were broken open, and probably more than 800 people were killed and injured. Some 21 rioters were executed, but Gordon was acquitted through the efforts of his lawyer, Thomas Erskine. Dickens vividly described the riots in Barnaby Rudge.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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